YouTube: Oksana Zabuzhko – The longest journey

Oksana Zabuzhko (Receiver of France’s Legion of Honor) delivered the keynote of the conference Voices from Ukraine: Women Philosophers and Scientists on War and Ecocide on her latest “The Longest Journey”. You can now watch the full talk on our YouTube Channel.

Written for a Western audience, the essay examines the origins of today’s Russian-Ukrainian war and in its cultural and social context. The novelist told about how the idea for the essay was born when in the middle of a book tour in Warsaw, the news broke of a Russian assault on Ukraine. Promptly after, Zabuzhko received a request from her Italian publisher to write an essay in which she explained the reasons for the war.

One of the main points made in the talk was that the rise of Vladimir Putin was by no means historically unprecedented. The language and politics of appeasement that could witnessed in relation to his foreign policy would remind the historically informed observer of the rise of dictators of the 20th century. “We have behind us a whole century of mass madness. What have we learned from it if we do not recognize history repeating itself in a new guise?” Oksana Zabuzhko asked, hinting at the active effort of ignoring the threat that Russia increasingly posed under Putin’s consolidation of power.

Against the European (and Hegelian) distinction of nations with and without a proper history, Oksana Zabuzhko elaborated on the cultural history of the Ukraine, reminding the audience of how central impulses of education and learning were rooted in Kiev, and how the conflict between Ukraine and Poland had shaped European history.

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